I’m a college student juggling many activities. I’m involved in several on-campus groups, I farm my own sustainable grass and tutor wood mice in my free time. You could say I’m — hm? What’s that? I went to write “busy”, but that’s certainly one of my pet peeves. Here at UR we are all busy. If, in conversation, a fellow undergraduate tries to tell me about how busy they are, I’ll most certainly roll my eyes (and I apologize in advance because it really is a very nasty habit).
When people tell me they’re too busy to do something, what they’re really telling me is that they don’t feel like making the sacrifices necessary to do it. Which is also to say that they don’t care about what I’m asking them to do. I’ll entertain arguments against this, but you’ll need to try really hard to convince me otherwise. If you really want to do something, you will always make time to do it. It’s simple economics. Cost-benefit analysis — I need not bore you.
Throughout my years at college and especially now as a senior, I’ve taken on more responsibilities. Some of these responsibilities were deliberately taken on. I put myself up for nomination to be the president of a committee, and I worked hard to be a leader on my sports team. In these roles, I find myself in charge of many different things and managing many different types of people.
As rewarding as the power trip is, I often find myself frustrated in these positions. When talking to my superiors, such as coaches and professors, I found that many of my frustrations are universally felt. That is, when you kill your brother and succeed to the throne, the inherited responsibility seems to be felt the same across situations.
My problem is with the hypocritical way that I think my generation conceptualizes their obligations. Through technological innovations, we use our screens as shields to hide behind as we shirk our work and ask for endless amounts of attention from other people. As a committee president, I send out numerous emails entreating the members to volunteer for different events. Often I must take my search to the next level when I am recruiting and individually reach out to people. Ultimately, the correct dose of guilt, bribery and anger can remedy any situation. But not without a lot of effort and time on my part.
I try to think about what happens on the other side of the screen when someone in my organization receives a mass email entreating them to help out. Is it just left unread in their inbox despite an aggressive subject line? Is it opened, read and quickly forgotten? Is it a conscious decision to not volunteer their time? Or is this all just one massive free-rider problem?
In the technology-forward world that we live in, I find that people are hiding behind their screens. What’s the harm in an email? It is all too easy to delete it and then forget about it after a couple scrolls through Instagram.
The screen problem extends to all of the new ways we can to communicate with each other through technology. A screen is a large and well-fortified wall that we feel very comfortable sitting behind. Emails asking us to help out are deflected off of it. Conversely, as a point of attack, cyber bullies can harass people anonymously from behind their solid and sound prison. Even without the garb of anonymity, people write nasty emails or send mean text messages with safety and security. From behind their glass screen, they don’t get to see the facial expressions and deal with the emotions of the people receiving their messages. If anything gets to be too much, you can turn your phone off or ignore any message.
New technology makes people far more accessible than they used to be. With a cell phone, you can be reached at any hour of the day and across many different types of mediums, such as audio, video or message. Long gone is the Pony Express of yore.
With all the wonderful technological innovations and my ability to reach people around the clock, why can I still find no one to volunteer for an event and at the same time have people constantly blowing up my phone and telling me about their problems? It all seems to be a little hypocritical.